Monday, 12 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So Monday we meet again! Why do you come around here so often I wonder?! Just about finish last weeks meal plan and boom off we go again! I actually wrote this weeks in the phone yesterday, whilst we were driving (not me I might add!) to go a randomly collect a pouffe halfway around the M25... it was after about 4 hours sleep post a night of late night playing a revolting and vile but also rather hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity and I was trying to recall what was at home to eat!

Last week we stayed fairly on plan, in fact only Friday night changed as we had a fridge full of leftovers and I refused to cook anything more! Wednesday nights Pastitsio was amazing if I do say so myself, I must remember to cook it more often! Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures last week as mystupid phone keeps trying to tell me it has run out of storage, maybe if Apple stop sending me huge updates I can perhaps photograph my dinner again! Answers on a postcard anyone?!

This week - is:

Polish Sausage Noodles
Pasta with a chorizo and leek creamy sauce
Pork and Leek sausages with new potatoes and courgettes
Tuna fish cakes and veg
Pizza baguettes

Though tonight's for me is looking I type this I am waiting for my GP to phone and I don't dare go to cook but I am cutting it rather fine to eat before my pilates class... if all fails its a rather unhealthy bag of crisps and some cheese I think!!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Cauliflower Cheese and Gammon Soup

Now if I recall correctly, I once saw a recipe at some point for Cauliflower cheese soup and it slipped to the dark recesses of my mind as one of those hmm one day recipes... but when faced recently with the usual dilemma of er what to make for dinner but even more so as I was far away from home and in my aunties kitchen, and a fridge full of leftovers the filed away thought magically resurfaced with a ooh could I try it out? Would it work? Would it be weird.... 

On the Sunday prior I had made a fairly majestic mustard spiked cauliflower cheese but despite our best efforts, there was a tub leftover... that was until Wednesday, arriving home post a long drive and day to the lovely River Cottage clutching my lovingly hand made Apple, blackberry and Goats cheese soda bread and wondering what I could serve with it, the Cauliflower cheese soup idea came back to fruition and a star was born! I think in future I will have to make extra Cauliflower cheese purely to make soup with its leftovers! It tasted so good and was a perfect accompaniment to my bread! Oh and my home made butter!

Lovely leftovers!
Now I think it was gammon, it was either that or a bacon joint, either way it was another leftover that got added!

Making the finishing touches:

Serves 2


400g leftover cauliflower cheese
1 clove minced garlic
400ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp spicy Polish spicy mustard (if not a little more wholegrain-this is presuming your cauli cheese was already containing mustard too)
50g shredded cooked gammon or bacon
1 tsp oil
mint leaves to garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan, saute the garlic until softened, add the cauliflower cheese and stock, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the mustard, then blitz with a stick blender adding the gammon at the very end for a few seconds, season to taste

Serve, garnish with mint leaves if you have some or a similar herb.

As my recipe used up lots of lovely leftovers I am entering it into one of my favourite blog challenges - Fab Food 4 All's Credit Crunch Munch which was born from Fuss Free Flavours!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

The past few weeks have honestly flown by! I have been meal planning sporadically, as between both of us starting new jobs, and adopting new routines, on top of a holiday its taken a while for the dust to settle! Was no point doing things by halves was there...!! My brain is being tested to its max with learning a whole new role, so most of meals have been with little effort as I had zero energy left some nights! I also recently had the best part of a week in Devon, which was lovely as always, and coincided with a fabulous trip to the magical River Cottage too! 

There's always that slight bit of emotional deflation after looking forward to something special and then <boom> nothing! However we are planning a mega ribs night with friends this weekend - I've bought four beautiful racks of pork loin ribs, just deciding what sauce to bathe them in to do them justice! In the past I have made Jamie's Epic ribs from the America book but I don't own a food processor and I don't think my liquidiser is up to the same effort. They are amazing so I will try and see if I can scale it back a bit!

This year we didn't manage a summer holiday, with job changes happening etc and now cricket season is over, me and my boyfriend are trying to explore areas within about a two hour drive, so on Saturday we had a lovely day trip to Hastings. It involved yummy scampi n chips by the sea and a lush icecream from Dom's along the seafront- I had cherry and white chocolate ripple.

I also saw my first Imax 3D film! The price was a little eye-watering but I hate to say it was almost worth it! We watched The Walk - it was amazing but a little but terrifying on a gigantic screen! Worth a watch though!

I have decided I must make a better, more focused effort at not cupboard hoarding food. One day I hope to get a place of our own and frankly, I don't want to move with our entire larder contents! (I call it larder but its known here as Narnia!!) There is all sorts of odds and ends and I have been trying to cull some of the endless jars. Though making 5 jars of green tomato chutney was possibly a step backwards this week but it did at least use up my mum's unripe tomatoes!

This weeks plan will be using a mixture of fresh and cupboard stashes - our lunches will be mostly leftovers or some of the 4kg jar of veggie couscous I picked up in Costco! Also known as the never ending jar of couscous!!  I made a giant batch of tuna meatball risotto too last night which will do a few lunches too! 

Sweet chilli Chicken wings n noodles
Jacket potato with creamy chorizo and leeks
Chickepa pancakes with vegetable curry
Pizza baguettes & chips


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Day at River Cottage

Last Wednesday I was very lucky to get the opportunity to spend a day at the iconic River Cottage in beautiful Axminster, in East Devon. After watching the original TV show originally headlined by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for many years, since the beginning really, to get the chance to spend a day there was really one of those golden ticket moments! I had it penciled in my diary for what seemed months and even more luckily managed to tie it in with a few days holiday with my auntie, so the night before unsurprisingly I didn't sleep very well, think I was a bit too excited perhaps!

The actual River Cottage itself is a 17th century traditional long house, which was somewhat derelict 9 years ago but has been lovingly restored by the team there and the certified organic smallholding farm now has around 16,000 visitors a year! Within its 90,000 acres of land there's a mixture of livestock,fruit and vegetables, plus flowers and herbs, all for use within the farm's employees and visitors. There's now a wind turbine to generate energy and they use well water only, along with some special reed system for waste disposal.. Its all about sustainability, and what they can't produce comes from local farms. There is also now under the River Cottage banner a number of 'canteen's' (I had a rhubarb fumble last year which was quite divine!)  and the on site cookery school and courses which holds a whole host of things to do from foraging to fishy feasts, oh a restaurant for special occasions and you can arrange corporate events. Something for everyone!

I am lucky enough where we are in Surrey to be a little bit rural but part of me does crave the River Cottage, sustainable farming lifestyle, though I am not sure physically my body could manage so much to have my own farm! Despite not living anywhere near Devon, it has always held a very special place in my heart, having been lucky enough to have family in Devon, I have had many a holiday there! I grew up knowing neighbouring farms and opportunities to see happy livestock and it was a joy to see the happy animals at River Cottage, and of course the rather stunning views!

Our day was a mixture of food styling - cooking - eating and a tour of the River Cottage farm. A good day in all! Crop rotation is in full force and I learned why there are flowers tucked in with the veggies -  its all part of the organic pest control, with the flowers attracting the birds n bugs they will hopefully leave the good stuff for us humans to enjoy!

The beautiful grounds and kitchen garden at River Cottage - I so want one of those gorgeous swing seats in a future garden! The gorgeous orange hue of the pumpkins also reminds my halloween is coming around fast - where has this year gone?!

Our Food styling workshop was run by the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy - its a new blog for me too devour her beautiful photography and I picked up a lot of tips and advice - hopefully it will improve my own photos, especially with the dreaded winter light coming! I did get a bit concerned over finding out red is hard to photo on white... I may have bought just  the night before a new set of crockery which is er, red and white! We shall see!!

Among the photos below you will spot some rather unusual coloured yellow raspberries - they are known as 'All gold' and as they look 'unripe' the birds leave them alone! They are lovely though and I was glad the birds had left us plenty as my group devoured their fair share of them!

After the tour of the farm and building up a good appetite we enjoyed a lovely, very tasty lunch of Dexter beef ravioli with an end of the summer vegetable stew - the beef was unctuous and so, so tasty! Followed by a heavenly pudding of vanilla icecream with roasted damsons, crmble and fennel infused meringues! Despite really needing a nap after all that lovely food it was time to make my very own soda bread and butter with the group head chef Gill Mellor- I added violets, rosemary and fennel seeds to the butter - it was so easy, if a little joyously messy to make, definitely something to do now I am back home! It was really good to be able to make butter from scratch and use the leftover buttermilk to make the bread! 

Though a slight interval for me ended up getting to ride in HFW's red land rover to go and move my car! I thought the ride down hill in the tractor trailer was kinda fun but the ride up in the land rover holding onto the seat for dear life beat it hands down for saying my prayers!

So after a non stop whirlwind of a day it was time to say a fond farewell - fortunately the sat nav made a smoother journey on the home run compared to the mornings 30 minute detour via Dorset! It really was a thoroughly enjoyable day and despite my shyness I did enjoy meeting and talking to lots of lovely bloggers!

Many thanks to Foodies 100 and River Cottage!

You can check out some other blogs of the day over at:

Disclaimer: I received my ticket free with no obligation to write a positive review

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

River Cottage here I come!

Sorry for a few days absence - this picture explains why I can barely turn on the pc:

Yes I am on holiday at long last! I am staying with wonderful family ahead of a super exciting trip the River Cottage in Devon tomorrow morning! I have insomnia at the best of times so tonight's sleep will be very interesting!! The sat nav after half an hour of downloading and re-downloaded is ready and raring to go, I have the thermos ready to fill at the crack of dawn and off I go!!

Whilst mostly I have been admiring the view, I have been doing some successful cooking too, following last week's digestive issues - I've made a seafood Thai curry, Seabass with tomato and fennel butter which was heavenly and last but not least a batch of Sweet Potato and Spiced rum brownies for my Aunties bake sale for Macmillan - am hoping to take part myself too when I eventually have to return back to normality!

I will report back soon with all the news from River Cottage and hopefully some lovely photos and food to share too!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

This weeks eating and making and shopping!

Sorry I went a bit absent fibromyalgia flared a bit last week following a migraine, resulting in a weekend of exhaustion, along with a hideous bout of heartburn that had me having to fork out £10 for an emergency prescription of my old acid meds.. I bloomin hate taking tablets but I think its been brewing a while despite trying to be super good with my diet and even drinking less wine so maybe they are for the long as you can have guessed by now not much cooking actually happened or even eating!

Thankfully five days on, the meds have kicked in and I had a cheeky glass of red last night, that didn't seem to cause to many issues! I don't normally choose Pinot Noir but Aldi kindly sent me a bottle and for a change I really liked theirs so much I would buy it again! A convert! Am normally a Shiraz kinda gal so quite a shift for me! Its light, perfectly complemented our dinner and easy enough on its own to drink too.

Despite having a tiny, awful kitchen with 3 cupboards and an overflowing store room I still cannot resist the odd culinary purchase - and after spotting these cute red little ramekins for a mere pound how I could I not purchase them?!

Please excuse the hideous photo but I had to share with you my joy of discovering mini tortilla wraps! I always make such a mess with the regular ones and these mini ones are perfect! We had them stuffed with spicy chicken, peppers and lots of cheese! Should of had guacamole too but the naughty avocadoes which took over a week to ripen, also went black!

They make awesome mini pizzas too!

Last but not least, we had a leaving do in my new office - our lovely manager has gone on maternity leave and we all brought in our favourites - I made sausage rolls, half were lined with English mustard and the other half ploughmans chutney - they vanished in no time and I should have made more in hindsight as they were so tasty!

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